BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
A HARARE magistrate yesterday deferred the bail hearing of incarcerated investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono hearing to Tuesday next week, saying he had no WiFi at home to do research on an application by the State, which seeks to bar his lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa from representing him.
Magistrate Ngoni Nduna also said he had other commitments and could not pass the ruling yesterday.
He said the submissions by the State and the defence were many and could take him the whole day to research.
Mtetwa wanted to file a fresh bail application after she failed on the initial appearance at the lower court and the High Court.
The State has filed an application to stop Mtetwa from representing Chin’ono.
State prosecutor Whisper Mabhaudhi had submitted that Mtetwa had denigrated the court on a Facebook page and accused her of hiding behind the rights of Chin’ono.
Mtetwa, however, said this application by Mabhaudhi was completely unheard of, saying the court could not remove the legal practitioner of an accused unless the accused himself dismissed his counsel.
Also, she said the Facebook page in question was not hers, but was run by an American based on her life as a human rights defender.
“Mabhaudhi seeks to scandalise the court. The application is not only incorrect but it is before the wrong forum. This court has not on any stage complained about the issue,” Mtetwa said.
She said the State should have reported the matter to the Law Society of Zimbabwe than seeking her removal from the court through an application.
The legal counsel added that the State could not decide on who to represent the accused since it was an opposing player.
“My learned colleague is attempting to choose the player of an opposite team, which is unheard of. The accused has the right of choosing a legal practitioner of choice,” Mtetwa said.
Chin’ono is expected to testify in camera on the abuse he experienced regarding COVID-19 protocol while in prison.